Protesters in ‘silent scream’ for jailed Turkish military figures
ANKARA (AFP) – Angered by the jailing of scores of military figures, protesters in cities across Turkey are demanding justice with quiet but determined weekly rallies they call “silent screams”.
For the past few months hundreds of demonstrators, many of them relatives of the detained officers, have been gathering peacefully across the country every Saturday afternoon to denounce what they see as politically motivated punishments against the country’s once omnipotent military.
They carry Turkish flag, banners and photos of the detained officers, but they refrain from marching or shouting slogans, hoping that their coordinated, silent protests will be more effective. At one gathering in Ankara in November, some protesters covered their mouths with black ribbons.
“We will continue our protest until we empty Silivri,” said 55-year-old Safiye Kavvas during a recent protest in Ankara. Silivri is the heavily guarded prison near Istanbul where more than 300 military officers are being held who were convicted of an alleged coup plot in September.
Since coming to power in 2002, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to tackle head-on the powerful military, the self-appointed guardians of the secular state who carried out four coups over half a century and had threatened his Islamic-rooted party with a political ban.
Tensions have for years been building between Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and its opponents who fear Turkey’s secular traditions are in peril and the premier’s attempts at consolidating power are leading him to anti-democratic excesses.